(NaturalNews) Colombia is emerging as a new destination for medical tourism, as high medical costs in North America and parts of Europe drive increasing numbers of people to the Third World in search of cosmetic surgery and other procedures.
The Colombian government has taken an active stance to promote its country as a place for travelers to secure high-quality, low-cost plastic surgery and dental care. For example, the average cost of any given cosmetic procedure is four times lower in Colombia than in the United States.
The city of Medellin in particular is determined to set itself up as a premier medical tourism destination. The second largest city in Colombia, Medellin is already a popular tourist destination in its own right.
"Medellin is a wonderful city that offers great healthcare and is ready to welcome an international market of patients," said Lara Stuart of WorldMedAssist, a medical tourism facilitation company. "The services their hospitals offer are competitive and the quality of care is evident."
The Medellin Healthcare Cluster recently hosted nine medical tourism facilitators, agents and insurance companies from Canada, the United States and the Caribbean for a "Medical Tourism Familiarization Tour" of the city. Visitors toured Colombian hospitals and other medical facilities, as well as more standard tourist destinations that might be of interest to their customers.
"The cost, quality, and technology present a real option for U.S. patients to strongly consider," said tour participant Kemal Canlar, president of Global Benefit Options. "The organization of the tour was a perfect blend of site visits, education, information, tourism and networking."
Although 2.2 percent of travelers to Colombia are already visiting for medical purposes, the government believes that the majority are Colombian nationals who live elsewhere. Yet 20 foreigners come to the country for plastic surgery each year, mostly from Mexico, Panama, Spain and the United States.
Sources for this story include: colombiareports.com; www.pr.com.